Over on Ask Betty, we’ve fielded more than a handful of reader questions about how to make Helper, minus the meat. To get the idea train rolling, here are three meatless combinations we tried (and loved!) that all start with a box Helper.
Meatless Mexican Made Easy
Instead of using the called-for ground beef in Hamburger Helper Crunchy Taco, we started with a sliced bell pepper, sautéing it in a 10-inch skillet with 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium-high heat ‘til crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Then we simply followed the directions as written on the box—easy peasy!
To bulk it up without using beef, we stirred in a can of rinsed, drained black beans midway through the 10 minutes of required simmering time. Chopped green onions, a sprinkling of cilantro and a few slices of canned black olives added a final dose of freshness to this fiesta in a bowl.
Feel-Good Fried Rice
To make this takeout favorite meatless, we first started by baking a block of tofu. (To do this, slice a pound of tofu into six pieces and press out some moisture between paper towels. Pop slices on a foil-lined baking sheet and bake at 375 degrees for 30-45 minutes, flipping once.)
Meanwhile, we prepared the Chicken Helper Chicken Fried Rice, following a similar method as above, sautéing a chopped head of broccoli in 1 tablespoon olive oil in a 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat, for 2-3 minutes. Then, following the directions on the box, we added the called-for hot water, rice and seasoning packet to the broccoli and covered it up for a half-hour of simmer time. A scrambled egg (cooked in the same skillet, next to the rice!) and chewy baked tofu pack in the protein, while fresh green onions add a crisp finishing touch.
Chickpeas Instead of Chicken
First things first: Chicken Helper’s Ulitmate Chicken Carbonara contains bacon, so this isn’t truly a meat-free option. But instead of showcasing chicken as the main protein, we combined two plant-based foods—button mushrooms and chickpeas—for one easy, filling skillet supper.
To start, we grabbed our trusty 10-inch skillet and sautéed 8 ounces of sliced button mushrooms in 1 tablespoon melted butter over medium-high heat. Once the mushrooms were barely tender, we added a can of rinsed and drained chickpeas, and then followed the directions on the box, adding hot milk, seasoning mix and pasta. Fifteen minutes later, we removed the skillet from the heat, added the creamy carbonara sauce and dished up a delicious dinner.
Have you made Helper, minus the meat? We’d love to hear your favorite combinations!